Iraqi militia leaders warn against a 'Shia-on-Shia battle'

Iraqi militia leaders warn against a 'Shia-on-Shia battle'
Muqtada al-Sadr has warned the Iraqi government that they will meet the same fate as Saddam Hussein, while militia leaders urge fighters not to be dragged into a Shia-on-Shia fight.
3 min read
21 May, 2016
The Saraya militias buried two protesters who were killed while storming the Green Zone [Getty]

The Iraqi capital was quiet after Friday’s events that accompanied the storming of the Green Zone by Muqtada al-Sadr's followers, despite an "unprecedented" deployment of security forces.

Security barriers and checkpoints have appeared around Baghdad and many markets and shops are closed, particularly around the Green Zone.

Meanwhile, Sadr warned his supporters against clashing with pro-government fighters as reports emerged over fears that Shia militias fighting alongside government forces may be attacked by protesters

"Militia fighters gathered early morning across the capital city and in a number of areas within the Sadr city," a source close to the Sadrist movement told The New Arab, adding, "Leaders are set to hold an important meeting following Friday’s events."

Hadi al-Amiri, the commander of the Badr militia in the popular mobilisation militias warned of a "Shia-Shia battle".

In a letter addressed to the Badr militias he urged fighters to "take caution and not to be dragged into any clashes," saying that "becoming involved in a Shia-Shia fight is forbidden."

"The real battle is with terrorism," he said, calling on his followers to prepare for battling the Islamic State in Fallujah.

Meanwhile, on Saturday the Saraya militias buried two protesters who were killed while storming the Green Zone.

The funeral set out from East Baghdad Sadr City towards the province of Najaf, with the brigades cutting off the road of the funeral procession, vowing vengeance against the killers.

Fadel Lipodeca, a member of the Sadrist movement told The New Arab that the families of the victims intend to sue those involved in killing and wounding the demonstrators, adding the Iraqi constitution allows for peaceful gatherings and protests.

Local Iraqi media also reported that one Iraqi security officer died of wounds after being allegedly stabbed by protesters.

Security forces in the Iraqi capital established control of the fortified Green Zone on Friday afternoon after thousands of protesters stormed into and around the parliament building.

Dozens of fatalities were reported when thousands of Muqtada al-Sadr supporters forced their way into the secured area, despite facing heavy resistance from security forces.

Extensive military reinforcements and helicopters surrounded the Green Zone as live rounds were shot into the air by Iraqi forces to disperse the protesters.

On Friday night Sadr warned the Iraqi government that they would "meet the same fate" of Saddam Hussein and ousted Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi if they continued to crush demonstrations.  

Similar scenes erupted on April 30 when demonstrators who had been protesting for weeks to demand a cabinet reshuffle and reforms broke into the fortified Green Zone and stormed Baghdad's parliament.

A months-old political crisis in Iraq has led to repeated mass demonstrations and has hampered the functioning of the government at a time when the country is battling the IS group on several fronts.